The Mozambican Ministry of the Sea, Inland Waters and Fisheries has handed over to the Defence Ministry a monitoring and inspection vessel which had once been seized by the Mozambican authorities for illegal fishing.

The boat, the “Antilles Reefer”, was a Namibian vessel that was seized in 2008 when it was caught fishing illegally in Mozambican waters. On board were 45 tonnes of fisheries produce, including sharks.

The owners of the ship were fined 4.5 million US dollars. But the fine was never paid, and in 2009 the ship reverted in favour of the Mozambican state.

The government decided to turn the poacher into a gamekeeper, and the “Antilles Reefer”, with funding from Norway, was refitted as a fisheries inspection vessel in a shipyard in the South Africa port of Durban.

The authorities have now decided that it makes more sense for this ship, as a pillar of the exercise of state authority in Mozambican waters, to be operated by the Defence Ministry rather than the Fisheries Ministry.

Fisheries Minister Agostinho Mondlane told the ceremony “we are transferring this boat due to the multidisciplinary nature of integrated inspection of maritime activities to be undertaken on a coordinated and joint basis. The ‘Antilles Reefer’ is a fundamental resource for inspection activities for both sectors (fisheries and defence)”.

For his part, Defence Minister Atanasio M’tumuke declared “this boat will assist in surveillance to make viable joint activities strengthening the exercise of state authority at sea, with a stress on preventing and repressing crime in our national waters”.